Archive for September, 2017

Grape Jam

With the hot summer we had a bumper crop of grapes on our pergola this fall.  Now when I designed and built the pergola and planted the grapes, it was for a visual effect.  Did not realize we would have so many grapes.

Pat and I started to harvest the crop today.  Last year we waited too long and the birds took much of the good ones but the previous year we did a harvest and made a great concord grape jam.

Within 30 minutes of picking we had a 5 gallon pail of concord grapes.  At least 3 more pails still on the vine.

Then we spent the afternoon peeling the grapes and making jam.  All we achieved today was three 500 ml jars, but relearned how to do it.  Possibly a little too finicky in the grape selection and peeling.  We will make another 6 jars tomorrow and then I will pick more grapes.  I have great respect for my grandmothers that must have spent days doing this.


Library in Calgary

So Calgary is building a new $240 million library to open next year.  (The actual amount is up in the air.)

Now I love libraries.  When I was a kid in Regina we would have a travelling library trailer show up once a week at a spot a few blocks away from our house.  Big event for me as I would climb in, return the book from the previous week, and immediately search out books in the categories that I loved.  War, history, adventure and Romantic novels.  (Well, obviously not the last.)

When I went off to University, I spent many hours in Libraries, mostly looking for quiet places to study, but also to seek information.  Now this is way before Google.

Every place we moved as a family, the first thing we did was sign up for the local library.

The Library in Markham in the early eighties had an expansion with many thousands of new books.  Easily a weekly visit.

In 1986 we moved to Calgary in a Southwest neighborhood.  Within a week the kids and I drove to the new Fish Creek Library to sign up.  A bit of a surprise.  Obviously a bunch of money spent on a pyramid building but no money spent on books.  All show, no inventory.   This was the norm for Calgary.

Over our years in Calgary we had to drive to other libraries around the city to actually look for books of interest.

Decades past, and now no one goes to a library to find a book.  You read ebooks (if the kids these days read books at all), and if you are into dead tree versions there is no end of book sales.

I drop in every now and then to our very nice Courtenay Library, mainly to pick up books on CD for our driving trips.  Aside from occasional groups of young students being shown the system, virtually everyone in the Library is homeless, hogging all the chairs and enjoying the temperature and washrooms.  I cannot remember the last time I saw a teenager or a young twenty-year old in the facility.

So Calgary has chosen to build a $240 million library.  I expect the homeless people in Calgary will love it.

At the same time, Calgary does not want to spend money on a new hockey arena.

I challenge my children (aside from James), and my grandchildren, my brother and my nieces and nephews, to tell me when they last visited a public library.

I do not think this is sad demonstration of the decline of human intellectual interest.  I think it is an indication of the end of the era of gleaning information through dead trees.  I still read 2 newspapers a day and fully realize that this will not go on.

I’m envisioning the day when the Flames move to Seattle, and all the people of Calgary head off to the fancy new library to commiserate.

Flight Seeing

Last winter Pat and I were at a fund-raising auction, where we bid on a sightseeing flight for two on a float plane out of Campbell River.  For the last two months we have been trying to connect for the flight but either we were not available or the plane was booked.  Today we finally got to go on the flight.  It was a sunny day but a trifle hazier than perfect, however, not to complain.  Problem is the 200 pictures we took are hazier than it looked to the naked eye.

We flew in a Turbo Otter (first picture) that can carry 14, but there were only 4 of us on the out-going flight, plus a load of freight.  When we boarded I was able to make good use of my elbows to secure the co-pilot seat, with views forward as well as to the side.  It was a two hour flight that stopped off in two fishing camps north along the passage.  On the return flight, we brought back 5 workers from one of the camps.

We took a ton of photos.  The second picture is Seymour Narrows, home of the famous Ripple Rock.  Vancouver Island is on the left and the mainland on the right.

You do not realize how complicated the inlets and islands are until you are flying over them at 3500 feet (last picture).  BC is truly spectacular.

A Sluice Box

I do not mention the hikes that I go on with our club very often.  Vancouver Island has wonderful hiking opportunities on west coast rain forest trails.

In the last year I have assumed the lead along with another club member to organize our hikes.  Our great friend, the leader whom we have followed for the last 6 years, has developed cancer.  Actually a pretty common problem with people our age.  Anyway, Tim asked me and another friend to take over the hiking group.  Problem is that I have followed him for years and just enjoyed the experience, so did not take notes on where to start or turn left or right on the myriad of wonderful trails that we have hiked.  Fortunately, he turned over his high end Garmin GPS to me.  Another member of the group uploaded all the previous hikes, so all I have to do is walk along and occasionally look at my machine when we come to a fork and lead off in the right direction.

This week I was leading 10 of our members on a hike on the Oyster River.  Beautiful day.  Full sunshine but a cool 15 C when we started out.  Early in the hike we ran into a problem.  The first kilometer of the regular route follows a gravel road before heading off into the woods.  A big dump truck came along.  The driver stopped and told us that the road was now an access to a gravel pit and we could not use it.

So we headed off into the woods on trails that I knew would eventually lead us to the (pre-recorded on my Garmin) trail.  Eventually I found the trail but to add more interest, I thought that we could take a side trail that is only shown on my GPS as a very old forestry trail.

Understand that around the valley everything was forested 60 to 100 years ago, and there are remnants of the old logging trails that they used back then to drag out the monster trees.  The vast majority of these old trails are overgrown, but we still follow them when we can.  \

So we are now off the route that has been followed by our club traditionally (according to my GPS),  along a trail that I knew would lead eventually to the river.  Obviously no one had been on this trail for decades, but with the sun shining down through the trees and ferns, it was beautiful.  Before we got to the river we were blocked by a pond that had to have been made by beavers.  We stopped to look at the view and I noticed a man-made wooden structure.  It took some scrambling to get down to it, but it was interesting.

It was a sluice that someone built (probably 20 – 30 years ago) to sluice for gold.  Some guy followed the stream we were hiking along and used a pan to check for gold.  Found traces so built this sluice to check out the site better.  In the end there was not enough gold to continue, so abandoned the site.

Gold is not that unusual on the Island.  Gold River north of us made several guys rich.  Still this was an interesting find on an adventure hike.


Suspend Belief

When you watch movies or TV programs, sometimes you have to suspend belief, after all it is only a show.

Pat and I record some lite entertainment shows that we can watch without a lot of deep thoughts.  Like Death in Paradise where a misplaced English police detective always solves murders in a small Caribbean Island, and always within the hour.   Another program we record and watch is Garage Sale Mysteries which is filmed in Vancouver but supposed to take place in some US town.  This started as a one time Hallmark movie about a woman that owns an antique shop and solves murder mysteries by attending garage sales.  So successful they have expanded it to a series of 2 hour made for TV movies.

Now I can accept the fact that Lori (the pretty woman who solves the murder) owns and runs a high end antique shop where she never actually seems to sell anything.  Never-the-less she lives in a huge house (actually filmed in one of the big houses that Lisa and Blaine like to visit in the Bridal area in South Surrey).  Obviously she cannot afford it but she has a husband who is supposed to be a successful contractor although he looks more like a super buff weight lifter, fashion model.  Now Sean will be the first to say this is not an impossibility.

On this program, aside from the American star Lori Loughlin it has a cast of Canadians.  But for some reason they have to do a stretch.  Lori and her buff husband have two teenaged kids living with them but Hannah their daughter is very obviously a 34 year old actress.  Again I can accept this as part of the rule that they have to hire Canadians and there are obviously no 18 year old Canadian girls available.   As I say I can accept that.

But I do have a problem with Lori’s contractor husband Jason.  In one episode he and his son are incapable of putting together a set of shelves from IKEA as he has no idea how to use an allen wrench.  Fortunately the 34 year old daughter, who obviously has built many Ikea units back when she was young, finished it for them.  The final straw was a shot where Jason was nailing together a platform AND HOLDING THE HAMMER HALF WAY UP THE HANDLE TAPPING AWAY.    I mean how could he be a very wealthy and successful building contractor and not know how to use a hammer?

Pat tells me that I take these things too serious, but really guys,  am I right?

Another Model

I have finally completed the Golden Hinde model.  Just to remind you, this was a kit that my buddy Harry started several years ago.  He finished the rough hull but stopped before planking and other details.  In truth the kit was too advanced for a first attempt with little or no instructions on how to proceed.  It sat stalled on his workbench for 2 years and every time I saw it I tried to get him going.  Finally I offered to take it over and do the hard part and turn it back to him to complete.  This was before Christmas

The kit not only was unclear it had fundamental issues.  The bulwarks (the sides of the hull above the deck) were way to thick and decking was crude.  Many of the pieces like the tops were terrible so I ended up making my own.   However like all kits most of the wood was precut so the work progressed relatively quickly.

However as I was having fun I continued to work on it long after I should have turned it back to Harry to do the painting and rigging.  Ends up I have completed about 98%

Harry will have to add the flags and sails if he wants.  Still looks pretty good.  Not sure what I am going to do next  but will clean up the workshop and worry about it another day

Death Star

News from the Space people that there is a Death Star that will come within our solar system and could destroy all life as we know it on Earth.

Good thing we are 69 years old and will not be affected.  Wait a minute I suspect our grandchildren will not be affected.  Apparently this will be 1.3 million years in the future  Whewww lucky for us.